Rob’s Best of 2011 Countdown: #15-11

As we continue on with the countdown, if you missed the first five entries of the series you can catch that here. While the first group seemed to be heavy with female singers this batch is heavy with throwback acts and some young guns as you will see so let’s get started.

15. Iced Earth – Dystopia

Believe me when I say I was surprised to have Iced Earth on my list. I’ve never been a huge fan with the exception of a few albums over the band’s existence and with new singer Stu Block jumping on the revolving door of frontmen my expectations were admittedly low. But wow, was I pleasantly surprised by what the band’s latest release Dystopia delivered. This could be my favorite album since Dark Saga if not ever. Stu brought a vocal range that combined Barlow with Owens and then his own style and it worked. While I’m not all in on Jon Schaffer’s conspiracy theory view of the world which tends to cheesify some of his songs, Stu’s presence makes up for it. I’m actually happier when I can be proven wrong about a band then when I’m proven right and I was definitely proven wrong about Dystopia.

14. Anthrax – Worship Music

Anthrax has had a lot of similarities with Iced Earth especially in the field of revolving vocalists but the difference is that Anthrax has always been a bigger band in terms of popularity and the larger gaps between releases. I was really late in listening to the latest disc Worship Music because I’ve never much cared for Anthrax with the exception of a few songs. But Scott’s review and the nagging from my friends to listen to this thing made me finally cave in. And I’m glad I did. This without question can be said to be my favorite Anthrax album ever. And the big reason wasn’t because Joey Belladonna returned but because his vocal style for Worship Music was something I could like. I’m happy that Anthrax has found success after a decade of bullshit.

13. Hemoptysis – Misanthropic Slaughter

To say it’s been a crazy year from our good friends in Hemoptysis would probably be an understatement. After promoting like crazy the guys got a label deal with Rock It Up and were featured at least once in every metal website in existence it seemed. And with good reason. Misanthropic Slaughter is a great batch of blackened/death/thrash metal songs and in some cases is superior to other bands that were already established by major labels. It can only get better from here and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Masaki,Travis,Ryan, and Sunao get attached to a big tour in the coming years. I look forward to seeing how this plays out.

12. Hell – Human Remains

What a perfect band to feature on That Devil Music. There has been a lot of retro style bands surface this year and for the most part it’s been pretty average to good. The difference is Hell was actually around in the midst of the NWOBHM but couldn’t catch a break. Without getting into all the nuts and bolts about the history of the band, if you are old enough to remember the glory days of NWOBHM and like theatrics and over the top catchy albums, then Human Remains is a must have. Hell could easily be in the running for comeback of the year if we were to do an awards type thing. I look forward to future releases from Andy Sneap and company. For more info check out Scott’s review.

11. Amorphis – The Beginning of Times

While this might seem kind of high on a list of a top 20 I actually would have thought Amorphis would have ranked higher then this earlier in the year. Yes, I’m saying I was a bit disappointed in the Beginning of Times as I didn’t quite like the album as a whole like I did Skyforger or Silent Waters. But make no mistake, Amorphis cannot make a terrible album unless they tried and though some of the songs didn’t hit my g spot entirely this is yet another great collection of melodeath folk metal (if I’ve just created a new genre I’m sorry but that’s a close description of Amorphis these days)that I recommend regardless of my own views which you can read here.

And there we go. We’re halfway there so check back to see what the next five bands will be. Also keep an eye out for at least a couple of lists from Scott too.

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